Come on England! What it's like to be a football fanatic. . .
When Alex Moore steps inside the Volgograd Arena to watch the Three Lions take on Tunisia it will be a childhood dream come true.
Since he was young the life-long Wolves fan has hoped that one day he would get the chance to cheer on England at a World Cup.
On Friday he will set off on a trip of a lifetime to Russia with tickets in his pocket to see Gareth Southgate’s men compete in all three of their Group G matches.
Alex, who is hoping to stay out there for the duration of the tournament, is keeping his fingers crossed that England will do well in their group games and progress to the second round – but he also hopes they go even further than that.
“I’m excited because it’s my first time going to the World Cup. I’ve always watched the World Cup from an early age. I remember watching my first, the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, on television and loving that there were three, or even four, different games a day. There is always the buzz when it comes around again four years later. I’ve always wanted to go and experience it and this is first time that I’ve been able to go,” Alex tells Weekend.
He faces a mammoth journey to reach Russia which will see him first fly to Prague where he will carry on to Moscow before getting a connecting flight from the capital to Volgograd ready for England’s first game against Tunisia on June 18.
The 24-year-old warehouse manager will then travel to the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium for the tie against Panama on June 24 and the Kaliningrad Stadium for the final group game against Belgium four days later.
Alex, who lives in Tipton, then has conditional supporter tickets for the knockout rounds should the national side qualify for these.
But he’s not getting his hopes up about Harry Kane and co. reaching the final of the quadrennial competition just yet. “I’m not feeling as confident as I probably should be really.
“On paper, we should beat all three but I’m not feeling that optimistic. I think the pressure could be too much for some of them like Harry Kane, there is a lot of pressure on him as captain.
“I think the players that might do well are those that aren’t so much in the spotlight like Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, they’ve got less pressure on them.
“The players can all do it in the Premier League, but we’re going to find out whether they can also do it at the World Cup, I think we should get five points which hopefully will be enough to go through to the next round. I think we will draw against Tunisia, beat Panama and draw against Beligum.
“If we can get to the quarter-finals, we will have done very well,” Alex, who has been following England home and away for the past three years, tells us.
There have been concerns raised about the safety of England fans travelling to Russia following the near riot in Marseille after the two countries played each other during Euro 2016.
Alex says it’s something that is on his mind especially because of people’s less than positive reactions when he tells them he’s going to the World Cup.
“People have asked me if I’m mad or told me I’m crazy and that’s kind of made me not as excited as I should be. I was always going to go to a World Cup and I decided after the last one in Brazil that it would be this one,” he tells Weekend.
Although he will be travelling by himself, once he arrives in Russia he will be meeting up with a group of friends. “We are fans of Wolves, Bolton, Norwich, Everton and Blackburn,” says Alex who watched England around 40 times during the past three years.
But he says watching the Three Lions can make you feel a little like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. “There have been some good times but there have been some bad times too. The first tournament I went to was Euro 2016 and the football on show was poor. When we lost 2-1 to Iceland in Nice, it was heart-wrenching. It was probably the worst match I have seen,” Alex recalls.
Football has always been in his blood and he says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t watching the beautiful game. “The day after I was born I was in a Wolves kit and I had a season ticket from the age of three.
“My family is very football-orientated. I remember my dad picking me up from school saying I had a dentist appointment when really we were going to a game in Leeds or Burnley,” he says
It’s already been a good year football-wise for Alex, who sits in the North Bank, after Nuno’s men were promoted to the Premier League as champions.
“I missed my first away game in 10 years which was Middlesbrough because I was in New York. I was sat in a bar opposite the Empire State Building watching the game. Even though I was in New York, it felt so strange not being there.
“It’s been a fantastic season but it seems to have gone so quickly. We have seen the best football I have ever seen and watched some top quality players. I’m excited about the Premier League.
“It all adds to the excitement about the World Cup. I think once I land in Russia any doubts because of people telling me I’m mad will disappear. I can’t wait to get out there,” Alex tells us.
All that’s left to say now is ‘Come on England!’.